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Danny Rose breaks silence about facing racist abuse in Montenegro

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Danny Rose has spoken emphatically and candidly about his personal feelings and career plans in breaking his 10-day silence about the racist abuse he and England’s other black players faced during the Three Lions’ game in Montenegro last month.

[ MORE: Bonucci criticized for saying Kean “50-50” to blame for racist abuse ]

While the likes of manager Gareth Southgate and players Raheem Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi chose to speak about the incident in the minutes immediately following the final whistle, Rose says he wanted to keep his thoughts to himself and speak with a number of important figures in his life before going public with his thoughts.

While his manager and some of his teammates weren’t aware of the racist chanting which had been taking place until the game’s second half, Rose was acutely aware of what was happening, though he says he didn’t bring it up to Southgate at halftime — quotes from the Telegraph:

“I spoke to Gareth after the game and he hadn’t been aware (of the racism). I didn’t mention it at halftime, so he wasn’t aware of what was happening until he heard it right at the end.

“The manager was a bit upset to be fair, because he told us it was the first time he’d been involved with something like that and he said he didn’t know what the right course of action was. He said he was fully behind me if we wanted to walk off. I just wanted to get the three points and get out of there as quickly as possible.”

Southgate offered nothing but full backing to his players after the game, striking the perfect balance of anger over the events and the feeling of failure given the level of responsibility he feels as someone in a position of prominence and power.

[ MORE: PL clubs top $341 million in fees paid to player agents ]

It’s not the first time Rose has dealt with racism while playing for England. As a member of the U-21 team for a trip to Serbia in 2012, a similar incident occurred which had Rose prepared for — and expecting — more of the same this time around. Serbia was fine all of $85,000 by UEFA and forced to play one game behind closed doors.

“I sort of prepared myself for what happened. We won and now we just wait for whatever punishment if any punishment happens.

“I wasn’t upset. I just didn’t want the focus to be on me and about a small — I have to say it was only a small — minority of the fans doing the chanting. I didn’t want the post-match to be about me. I just wanted everybody to focus on a great week we’d had with England. We scored 10 goals and it was a great performance over two games. I just didn’t want to speak and put any focus on me, that’s all.

“I played in Serbia about eight years ago and it happened there. So I sort of thought it would be a possibility that it might happen again (in Montenegro) and it did. So yes, it happened. I looked up straight away in the first half and I know the exact time it happened in the first half.

“But it didn’t affect my game. I’m a big boy now and I know that three points are obviously not the most important thing when you’re going through something like that, but I just wanted the team to get three points so that we could move on and get out of Montenegro as quickly as possible.”

[ MORE: Sterling pays for 550 students from his old school to attend FA Cup semi ]

As for what must be done to rid the game of racism, Rose believes the game’s various governing bodies must begin to take the issue seriously, beginning with punishments befitting the crime.

“When countries only get fined what I’d probably spend on a night out in London, what do you expect? When the punishment is not as harsh, what do you expect?

“You see my Tottenham manager (Mauricio Pochettino) get banned for two games for just being confrontational against [referee] Mike Dean at Burnley. But yet a country can only get fined a little bit of money for being racist. It’s just a bit of a farce at the minute. So that’s where we are at in football and until there’s a harsh punishment there’s not must else we can expect.”

While Rose is clearly a deeply insightful individual and someone willing to meet any potential criticism head-on for speaking out about important societal issues, he was very transparent about the fact that the custodians of the game have not only failed himself and many others around the world, but also that it has him just about counting down the days until he’s ready to retire.

“I’ve had enough. At the minute, how I program myself, I just think, ‘I’ve got five or six more years left in football and I just can’t wait to see the back of it.’ Seeing how things are done in the game at the minute. I just want to get out of it.

“That’s how I feel. I feel I’ve got five or six more years left and I just want to enjoy football as much as I can. There is so much politics and whatever in football, and I just can’t wait to see the back of it, to be honest.”

UCL Roundup: Red Star, The New Saints (Wales) advance to second round

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Second legs are underway in the UEFA Champions League first qualification round, and both Red Star Belgrade and The New Saints from Wales are through to the second round.

Here’s a short roundup of UCL action on Tuesday:


Red Star Belgrade 2-1 Sudova (2-1 on Aggregate)

The Serbian giants advance to the next round with a big 2-1 win over Lithuanian Champions Sudova. Richmond Boakye and former Chelsea midfielder Marko Marin both scored in the first half. Red Star Belgrade was set to keep a clean sheet but Sudova scored late.

With the win, Red Star Belgrade moves on to face HJK Helsinki in Finland in the second round.


The New Saints 1-0 Feronikeli (3-2 on aggregate)

Welsh Premier League side The New Saints defeated Kosovan club Feronikeli, 1-0, thanks to a goal from Irish forward Dean Ebbe. Ebbe came off the bench and headed home a lofted ball into the box.

Feronikeli had chances to take the lead early, including twice in the first ten minutes, but blasted shots in the box well over the wall.

UEFA Champions League Second Leg Results

Shkendija 1 – 2 Nõmme Kalju 
Saburtalo 1 – 3 FC Sheriff
Valletta 1 – 1 F91 Dudelange
HB 2 – 2 HJK 

Solskjaer: ‘We just need consistency’

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In a vague, general word, Manchester United manager knows exactly what his club have been missing. Consistency.

More specifically, consistent success.

In a sit-down interview with the BBC, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mentioned striving for consistency in performances on no less than four occasions, including when speaking about Alexis Sanchez. Man United won eight straight matches in all competitions and 10 of its first 11 under the Norwegian manager.

[READ: De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of Juventus move]

And yet, the consistency wasn’t there late in the season, when Man United faltered down the stretch and won just two of its last ten matches to close the season on a sour note. Man United finished in sixth place, and while Solskjaer said he believed it would be a challenge to break into the top four, he said with some consistent performances, Man United could achieve its goals.

“We have to aim for further up than fourth,” Solskjaer told the BBC. “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right. I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.

“We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency. We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target. Everyone gets off line at some point but you can’t let it drift too far because then you won’t get to the overall goal.”

Some Man United fans have been mumbling and rumbling due to the slow start in this summer’s transfer window. Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have both departed on free transfers, while only Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have come in. While it’s not the improvements some fans were hoping for, it’s helped give some of the young players, like James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenword, some hope that they can get minutes.

Perhaps the push from the young players for first team minutes will make Man United a bit more competitive in training again, which can only help in terms of having success on the field.

The big question remains, which Man United team will we see this season. The one from Solskjaer’s first two months on the job, or the one from his last six weeks.

MLS Notes: Shea out for season with torn ACL, and more

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It appeared Brek Shea had finally gotten his career back on track, only for a serious injury to end his season prematurely.

Atlanta United announced on Tuesday that Shea had suffered a “right knee injury” that will involve season-ending surgery. An earlier report from the Athletic stated it was a torn ACL, which could leave Shea sidelined into the start of next season.

[READ: de Ligt arrives in Turin]

Shea has made 10 starts out of 19 appearances so far this season for Atlanta, where he’s often played as a left wing back or left midfielder, offering speed down the flank and a deeper starting position to connect with Atlanta’s talented attackers. A good season from Shea could have propelled him back into the USMNT conversation, especially if he took part in next season’s January camp. Now, that option is off the table.

Here’s some more MLS news and notes:

(more…)

De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of proposed Juventus move

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s recruiting tactics with Matthijs de Ligt during the UEFA Nations League final appears to have worked.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Juventus posted a video on the club’s social media accounts that shows de Ligt arriving in Turin, Italy on a private jet, likely to sign his contract and get started with the club. It’s a huge precursor to an announcement for one of the top targets of this summer’s transfer market, and it represents a huge coup for Juventus.

Just a month ago or so, Juventus were on the outside looking in, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, and even Manchester United and Manchester City all mentioned in the race to sign the Netherlands and Ajax star centerback. And yet, PSG, which appeared in the lead at one point, lost ground to Juventus, and de Ligt now gets to compete alongside Ronaldo after facing him twice over the past season.

It’s the latest move in the incredible rise of de Ligt over the past three years. De Ligt was promoted to Ajax’s first team as a 17-year-old, and pretty quickly established himself as a huge talent for the Netherlands. Then Netherlands National Team coach Danny Blind called up de Ligt to start in a crunch World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, with the Netherlands desperate for some defensive answers.

It’s didn’t exactly go well.

And yet, de Ligt has overcome those experiences and raised his game to new levels each of the last two years. Alongside Davinson Sanchez, Ajax made it to the Europa League final, and last year, de Ligt scored as Ajax defeated Juventus on the way to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Ajax was just a few minutes away from the finals before Tottenham’s late winner.

At the same time, along with Virgil Van Dijk, they form one of the strongest centerback partnerships in Europe, and look set to lead the Netherlands to UEFA Euro 2020.

As mentioned before, it’s a massive get for de Ligt, assuming that the soon-to-be 20-year-old can settle in Turin. Juventus’ defensive corps continues to grow older, with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini both well into their 30s. De Ligt’s arrival can help give some stability at the back and allow Juventus to transition to the next generation of centerbacks.